The House of Representatives ad-hoc committee investigating alleged crude oil sales revenue loss has invited the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami to appear before it as part of it’s ongoing investigation.
Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee, Mark Tersee Gbillah, gave the directive at the resumed hearing on the alleged revenue loss from the alleged sale of 48 million barrels of crude oil sold in China which was exposed by some whistleblowers.
The ad-hoc committee is investigating “Alleged Loss Of Over $2.4 Billion In Revenue From Illegal Sale Of Crude Oil Export In 2015 Including Crude Oil Exports From 2014 Till Date”.
Gbillah said the committee gave the summon in order to know the roles being played by finance ministry and the agencies as regards the whistleblower policy particularly on how whistleblowers were being treated or paid.
He said, “It’s unfortunate that the minister of finance is not here, the Attorney General of the Federation is not here.
“This is a formal request from the committee that appears before this committee because they have received formal invitation to do so.
“And a lot of what we have to investigate regards to whistleblower policy is saddled within the ministry of finance and the Attorney General of the Federation.
“There are responses received from the Accountant General’s office which shows that the minister of finance has been approving payments to whistleblowers in percentages at variance with the policy which says they should be paid.
“There have been allegations of the Attorney General being involved also in the receipt of funds from outside the country without these funds being remitted into the federation account in line with the provisions of the constitution.
“There are allegations that the expenditure of these recoveries have also been done in complete violation of the provisions of the constitution.
“The CBN made a formal response to this committee indicating that through the TSA policy of this administration, agencies operate their Treasury Single Account (TSA) and make expenditure from these accounts without recourse to the CBN.
“This is something that’s alarming for the CBN to declare before us, because we are aware of constitutional provisions that states that all revenue accruing to the federation must be paid into the federation account.
“So if there are recoveries being made from whistleblower these monies need to be paid into the account of the federation as required by law.
“So we are inviting minister of finance, the Attorney General of the Federation, Secretary to the Government of the Federation and stakeholders involved in the implementation of the whistleblower policy to appear before the committee to provide clarification on the operation of this policy and the approvals being made by the finance minister
“In regards to the issue of crude oil, we are expecting the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission, NEITI, oil and gas companies who operate who operate fuels and engage in export.
“The Office of the Accountant General of the Federation and the Accountant General himself to be present including the budget office of the Federation to be present and provide clarification
“There are certain individuals as well we need to investigate, certain whistleblower revelation show that from the Paris fund refund hundreds of millions of dollars were paid into company account without any record of services provided to the country and these are things that needs to be investigated”.
Earlier, the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila represented by Isiaka Ibrahim Ayokunle, said in the light of dwindling revenue accruing to Nigeria from crude oil sales, it was alarming to learn about whistleblower allegations that over $2.4bn in possible revenue was lost from the sale of 48 million barrels of Nigeria’s crude oil cargoes in China.
He said, “While it is imperative to highlight that these are unverified allegations, the onus is on the House of Representatives as a responsible House of the Nigerian people to carry out a thorough investigation to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of these allegations including an investigation into crude oil exports from Nigeria from 2014-2022 to ascertain the accuracy of recorded revenue from sales during this period, the utilization of this revenue and identify any likely additional losses in revenue to the country.
“It is reported that about 700 million dollar worth of Crude Oil is lost to oil theft monthly in Nigeria. In January and July 2022 alone, Nigeria lost 10 Billion Dollars to the crime.
“Available data shows that the country may lose 23 Billion Dollars this year to Crude Oil theft with concerns being expressed about the possibility of meeting 2023 proposed production target of 1.69 million barrels per day due to the myriad of issues militating against the attainment of this target, such vandalism, in-accurate reconciliation, insecurity and unreasonable operational cost.
“The recommendation of the Committee after its investigation will no doubt, guide the House in making an informed decision in considering the Whistle-Blower Bill currently before it.
“The legislation when passed into law will address mirage of issues associated with the implementation of the policy as well as take adequate care of the whistle-Blowers involved, which is very significant in the success of the policy and law when passed.
“Let me state emphatically, that whistle-blowers that volunteered information to this Honourable House will receive the maximum legislative protection and confidentiality.”
A former member of the House in the 8th Assembly, Johnson Agbonayinma who made a presentation before the committee said an investigation was carried out by the 8th Assembly based on a motion he moved in 2016.
According to him, it was discovered that, the billions of dollars involved in the alleged shady crude oil deals was more than what is being investigated.
The lawmaker said, all relevant agencies must be summoned to explain their roles..
He promised to provide the committee copies of the sensitive documents at his disposal including all the reports on an investigation conducted over the years.